Reality is what you want it to be. Reality is a term that is used loosely, but comes in many different variations. There has never been or never will be one way to interpret reality, as it is built up of beliefs and values which vary from person to person. The true nature of reality is merely an illusion; it is the universe which exists in the mind. George Orwell develops this idea in the novel 1984 as he suggests that the true nature of reality is not defined by its validity but an outcome of society’s influences, and the boundaries of reality are constructed by the boundaries of imagination. Reality for a group or individual is not built up of truths; rather it is built up of what is believed to be true or factual. The citizens of Oceania lacked basic human rights. They worked long hours, no sense of privacy, and clearly deprived of any happiness. It would be logical to assume that this form of government is cruel and rebellion would spread like wild fire, but the citizens of Oceania firmly believe that Big Brother is taking care of them.
The reason they believe this is because they have no way to access any other source of information so they are left to accept what is told by the party. This one hundred percent belief that they are being taken care of clearly defines the reality of the citizens of Oceania, but has no validity to it. Winston starts realizing this when he reads a children’s book and says “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make the claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of the experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.” This is the point where he starts realizing that the reality in which the party instills in the citizens of Oceania clearly is not based on logic (2+2=5) but is still enthusiastically accepted by the people. Humans are social creatures, we learn socially and through second hand knowledge passed down from society.
So it makes sense to believe that the building blocks of reality, the beliefs and values which make it whole, are hugely influenced by the beliefs and values that society allows to be instilled. The Nazi rule of Germany during WWII will always be remembered as one of the darkest periods in human history. Many of the values that Hitler instilled and forced upon the citizens of Germany share the same concept in which Big Brother spread their values of hate and control, making them perfect examples of each other. For both Nazi Germany and Oceania its citizens accepted the reality which practiced hate and scapegoat toward the enemy, ideas that would seem crazy in modern society and which would never be tolerated. So in Nazi Germany, why were these ideas so widely accepted?
The citizens of Germany were surrounded by propaganda, the society in which they lived made it acceptable to act like that and enforced it, making the people believe that it’s the right way to think and believe, thus creating their reality. This is exactly the same way in which the party gained such control over the human mind, surrounding the people with propaganda hate, and nothing else, brainwashing the people to believe that it is the values reflected by the party is the most acceptable, and only way to act. When it comes down to it, the true boundaries of reality are defined by what is comprehensible by the human mind, also known as the imagination. The extent of the imagination stretches out as far as what has been seen or felt. It is impossible to know exactly what it would feel like to be on Pluto.
Why? This is because nobody has ever had the experience of living on Pluto. The citizens of Oceania are completely oblivious of the outside world. The only knowledge they have is that which the party as allowed them to know. This is why in the middle of hate week, when Oceania switches allies the people blamed Emmanuel Goldstein for all of the negative propaganda about Eurasia. This is clearly another lie which the party fabricates to suck the citizens of Oceania into the negativity of their reality. This is not questioned though because the only experience the people have in terms of what they have seen or felt has been controlled by the party, so whatever the beliefs values or decisions the party reflects, no matter how ridiculous, will be enthusiastically accepted by the people. When Winston goes on about his love affair with Julia, he makes love to her and his mind opens up to the true pleasures of life.
The party publicizes the idea that sex is a completely pleasure less act and should only occur with intent for reproduction. When Winston makes love to her it opens his mind up to what is possible beyond what the party is telling them. So why did this happen? Winston went through an experience which was out of the ordinary, which opened up his imagination and logically magnified his rebellion against the party because he came to the realization that there is more to life than what the party is allowing them to know. These limits of reality are defined by how far the imagination can really stretch. George Orwell does a fantastic job exemplifying the true meaning of reality.
The idea that reality is merely an outcome of experience and knowledge and nothing else is exaggerated by the totalitarian rule of Big Brother and the complete control of Oceania citizens. The belief that present reality is completely valid does make it reality, even if it is not completely factual. This was shown by the residents of Oceania as it was obvious they were being fed lies but accepted with no question. Everything that is inside your reality has been influenced by society, whether it is known or not, it is impossible to control, but what really restricts reality is imagination.
If the citizens of Oceania were exposed to anything other than the beliefs and values of the party, there is no way that they would act and respond to it the same way as their reality would open up to new possibilities. Considering all of this, there is no way to know what is really true and whether what we believe and value is right or wrong. We may be living in a reality in which many possibilities of life are hidden, just in the way that freedom was hidden from Oceania.
Courtney from Study Moose
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